Sunday, 28 October 2012

Rubber Duck & Small River Obsession Vlog

A video from two fishing trips that I took in september on the river Blackwater (Hampshire).

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Redfins Under My Skin

As you will know my last trip down the Thames was accompanied by that perfectly formed Roach,  this had got me thinking about what sizeable fish might reside along this stretch and attempting to succesfully target them now and in winter.

It was around 2pm as I made my way over to the river, I noted that the cattle were far away, now you're probably wondering why I even mention this, but this bovine mixed bag contains a couple of Bulls, sans horns and whilst they seem quite content, I don't have a death wish to get too close to them anytime soon, lest I be chased and I can safely say that this chaps not running anywhere at any kind of speed too soon.

Given that the heavy rains had only just abated, I was hopeful that water levels had still dropped somewhat and looking at the boathouse on the opposite bank I could see that it had dropped, the gravy colour replaced by one that looked akin to washed out tea and better clarity than on my prior trip, which was very welcoming.

There is so many alluring spots along the river that I could easily be tempted to try a different one on each trip, however I elected to fish the same spot as last time, what I really like about it, is that it is  not a full slack and has a touch of current that intervenes at regular intervals, a nice depth close in and of course that big bush as coverage. I slowly setup deciding to start with a maggot approach despite having taken bread and lobworms with me as well.

It was an odd afternoon, the Thames was willingly throwing me one of its curve balls, the only bites forthcoming were ones accompanied by a clean hook and crinkled line, courtesy of the Crayfish along this stretch, admittedly I have not ever had that much problem with them and to that extent I don't feel there is that many, but it seemed a sure sign that either the fish were not about or not in a feeding mood.

I chopped and changed between baits most of the day but to no avail and as daylight had faded, I was beginning to think that I might be heading home with my tail tucked firmly between my legs. I had introduced the last of the liquidised bread to the swim and changed baits yet again, this time changing from bread back to maggot, the rod cast back out tight to the bush, a glance at my watch told me that time was of the essence, if this was a football match, then surely we was into injury time.

A faint pluck, it could have been debris, but it did not have the usual deliberate movement as debris. Tap, pluck, tap. I struck, the quiver responded as did my quarry at the other end of the hooklink. Thump thud thump, I eventually could see a nice bar of silver and red. "Don't you dare lose this fish" I said to myself. As the fish slipped into the waiting landing net, the hook slipped out.

A lovely looking Roach of 1 lb 12oz's, I was chuffed to bits, a blank saver and a new personal best. A perfect way to end what had been a very slow afternoon on the Thames, I now really believe that there is a good chance of a 2 pounder, perhaps even larger from this area of the river.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

An Eel Feeling On A Ruffe Thames

I had been contemplating getting back on the Thames to try targeting some of the larger Perch that reside in its depths. Admittedly the weather had been fairly atrocious and in hindsight with the heavily coloured water conditions it was far from ideal, but nonetheless I was game. I had also decided to take some liquidised bread with me, mixed with seed and maggots and use this, with some of the groundbait balls containing a small amount of chopped worm.

The route to the river was more than passable despite the usual boggy areas that the cows had churned up, my boots making excited slurping sounds as I tried extracting each foot from its slushy grip without taking a tumble. I had a feeling that whilst it would be up high, if I could find some very slack areas then I would still be able to wet a line.

On catching sight with it, the river was coloured and pushing through to say the least, a multitude of different currents surging back and forth, I decided to fish a slack bay, with a nice feature to my left in the shape of an overhanging bush. Where you could normally stand was well underwater, I fancied this area, the coverage looked good and I felt that if it did not hold some Perch, then surely it would also be home to other fish as well.

I managed to hold bottom using a small 2oz watch style gripper lead in this swim, out that went with a lobworm placed close to the bush, for the first few hours it was fairly quiet and I was beginning to think to myself that the Perch idea was not a smart one, so I changed to maggot, an hour later I had my first bite, the culprit was a small Gudgeon and he was most welcome, a little later another joined him, both bites being hard taps which sent shockwaves through the quivertip.

The afternoon was a grey rainy affair, patting steadily on the umbrella, most of the cattle that inhabit the area were regularly calling out and looking most forlorn as they moved in circles,  seeking some cover from the rain, on eventually seeing me with my bucket of groundbait, they made their way across to me, all 34 of them, bovine inquisitiveness is something I always find a bit unnerving, they finally realised I had no food for them and they soon grew bored, before gradually plodding off to do what cows do best, eat grass and drop land mines for unsuspecting anglers.

I was wondering where the next bite would come from, I soon found out when I hooked a small but perfectly formed Tommy Ruffe, this made me smile, as I always seem to catch these fish whenever I have fished a river that is up and very coloured and today was certainly no exception.

I placed a few more balls of groundbait close to the bush, moulding some around the lead before casting,  after an hour or so of winding in and removing a washing line of debris and re-casting regularly, the quivertip thumped round steadily, I struck and was into what felt a better stamp of fish. The first I saw was the red fins and I immediately thought to myself Perch, but then the silver flank that accompanied the red fins made itself apparent as to what it was and a nicely formed Roach was slipped into the landing net, it weighed 1 lb.

I was rather happy with this and it has now got me wondering just what larger Roach might be lurking along this particular stretch of Thames. Daylight had faded when I saw a pair of swans which were doing their best to travel upstream, not an easy feat, upon seeing me they made a beeline across the river in hope of a free feed.

During this time I was taking a few pictures and had just put the camera down to have a cup of tea, flask open as I was about to pour, I stole a sideways glance to my rod which was now arched over, line being rapidly taken, as I struck, a small branch lifted up further out in the main current, my initial thoughts of a passing piece of debris having latched onto my rig were dislodged by the tug and heavy surge from the other end of the rod, as the unseen fish tried to happily head upstream, my first thoughts were of a Barbel as this fish just did not want to give in, a dogged fight began as it hugged the bottom, it was just as well that it had not decided to head downstream as I would have been well and truly stumped, as it was the quiver was bent over alarmingly and I was having to just cushion the run and keep trying to gain small amounts of line.

Eventually a long shape, with dark back and white underbelly emerged on the surface, an Eel with a girth on it that looked all of four pounds, it was not amused and thrashed angrily before making another solid run. Eventually I managed to get three quarters of its body over the net on three occasions, each time proving really troublesome, it managing to reverse out each time in a near farcical fashion, I was not happy, by now I could see it was lip hooked and I felt it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened and it did. Ping the hook pulled, lodging in the front of the landing net, leaving me staring in abject horror and disbelief as the Eel disappeared back into the murky depths.

The rest of the evening  was very quiet and with no more bites forthcoming I decided to pack up and make my way home, as I did it was with plenty of food for thought and a very eel feeling.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Muddy Water - Mixed Bags & Leaf Strewn Currents

I had been hoping to fish a certain area of the Blackwater, but given the heavy rain, this option had to be left out of the equation which was a shame. But on such things other areas are found and plans are made to fish, heading further downstream than I have fished before, I found a lovely long bend in the river, the pace slower here, with lovely marginal tree coverage upstream and some nice gravel areas downstream, I planned to fish from lunch time to late evening, this time with no particular species in mind, just thoughts of catching a mixed bag of fish on maggots and worms.

The river was tea brown in colour and clarity conspicuous by its absence, the smell of fallen leaves surrounded me, autumn colours dotted along the bank. It was not the most straight forward of days fishing, lots of debris sailing by, catching the line at regular intervals, a light mixture of maggots and groundbait was placed downstream along my near margin, an area that I thought would give some protection from the course the debris was taking and to some degree it did.

Bites were very slow to begin with and at one point I was actually wishing I was trotting a float along the river instead of ledgering. The first of many hard rattling taps signaled that the Chublets had moved in and I began to catch one after another of these chaps at regular intervals, until their activity seemed to wane, only to be replaced by faster bites, which sent the quivertip round swiftly, until it sprung back like a diving board, strike miss, strike miss, strike miss, this went on for a while, to the extent I was beginning to question my sanity, whilst also thinking minnows had moved in, after what seemed like twenty more connections with thin air, I finally had the culprit a Dace, this brought back enjoyable memories of some of the large Dace that myself and a friend used to catch in the Loddon many years ago.

After more missed bites I managed to add seven more Dace and then I got a bit ahead of myself, thinking that I was perhaps in for a glut of them, my estimate was very wrong and their activity ceased abruptly, as did most of the fish activity, there was a good chance that a Pike might have been tempted to the area with the groundbait, I decided to rest the swim and open my flask of tea. Now I don't know about all of you and I like a cup of tea most days, but the warmth and taste just seems that much better on a cool autumn day.

As I drained the last drop of tea from my cup, I could hear the calls from Red Kites in the field behind me, I decided to take a look and I have to say what I saw was wonderful, two of them sat on a dead tree, I popped back to my swim and tried to get my camera ready as fast as I could whilst hoping they didn't leave, luckily they didn't and I managed to get the following shots

I have to say it really made my day and it was with a cheerful smile that I cast back out, this time with lobworm and in hope of perhaps picking up a few Perch, after a few light knocks followed by a long pause, the quiver thudded round and a nicely formed, small Perch of 12ozs was landed, this was to be the only Perch of the day, I have to admit given some of the features in this stretch I was expecting a few more, but seemingly it twas not to be.

This has got me thinking and I do feel that with the likes of the Thames and Kennet local to me, as well as the Loddon, that I should really be considering targeting those rivers for the chance of a specimen Perch this winter and it is something that I will most certainly be doing.

I spent the final part of the evening in the company of those hard biting fish, the ones that always punch well above their weight, giving Barbel style bites and numerous of them, I am of course talking about Gudgeon. I can clearly say that I have not caught this many since I was on the Loddon as a child, it was refreshing to see so many of them, replete with their irradiant, mother of pearl esque scales.

By 9pm it was getting chilly and I decided it was time to pack up, I had caught around 4lb of fish,  predominantly made up of Chublets and Gudgeon along with Dace and the single Perch.

As I made my way home, my imagination was filled with thoughts of kites gliding effortlessly in the infinite sky of my mind, nature affords us anglers some wonderful sights, how truly lucky we are to see and be able to share them with others.